Four key trends will impact the U.S. food and beverage industry in 2018, according to Evergreen Packaging, a Memphis, Tenn., provider of fiber-based packaging solutions. The company released a report based on data from EcoFocus Worldwide’s annual EcoFocus Trend Study, which forecasts key trends that will shape industry in the year ahead. Now in its eighth year, the EcoFocus Trend Study examines how consumer attitudes, actions, preferences and values are reshaping grocery purchasing decisions.

The four key trends identified by the study, Evergreen Packaging said, are:

  • Authenticity becomes a priority.
    Authenticity has long been a strength for certain grocery brands and is now trending as a priority for grocery shoppers in 2018, impacting brands across all categories, the company said. Beyond health-conscious shoppers, an emerging segment of shoppers is seeking brands that they believe are authentic and products that they believe will offer an authentic experience. These shoppers — deemed “Fresh Authentics” — embrace healthy, clean and sustainable foods, beverages and packaging. Of the more than 4,000 grocery shoppers who participated in the study, 11% were defined as Fresh Authentics, and the segment is expected to grow in size and influence.
  • Packaging becomes an integral part of the ingredient list.
    As more shoppers choose authentic foods and beverages, they are gravitating toward packaging that they believe is authentic as well: clean packaging that helps retain the good taste and nutrition of foods and beverages naturally, without preservatives, and that does not leave undesirable chemicals in the products. In the study, 64% of grocery shoppers reported changing what they buy to reduce exposure to chemicals in food or beverage packaging, Evergreen Packaging said.
  • Certifications communicate authenticity and establish trust.
    Companies will earn shoppers’ trust through transparency and commitments to desirable food and beverage business practices in 2018. In the study, 46% of grocery shoppers said they avoided purchasing products from companies after learning that their business practices were not environmentally responsible, up six percentage points from 2011, the company said. One way to clearly communicate authenticity and establish trust is through recognized third-party certifications.
  • Consumers are seeking authentic store brands from retailers.
    In 2018, shoppers are seeking retailers that stand behind their corporate commitments and can help shoppers sort through the thousands of products on the shelves to make healthy and eco-friendly choices easier and accessible. Demand for healthy, clean and sustainable choices is driving movement to trusted store brands that deliver these attributes. According to the study, 68% of grocery shoppers said it is “very important” to shop at a grocery store that makes it easy for them to make healthy choices.

“The study results illustrate that the movement toward fresh, high-quality natural foods and sustainable packaging is continuing to gain momentum for all grocery shoppers, and is already a lifestyle for the Fresh Authentics,” said Linda Gilbert, the study’s author and CEO of EcoFocus Worldwide. “For brands that possess these advantages, it’s more important than ever before to clearly communicate these values to stand out on the crowded grocery shelves and aid consumers in their purchasing decisions.”

The full report detailing the four trends is available for free download from Evergreen Packaging. To read or download the document, visit